Glenn: Problems with multiple medicines (I) – Side effects

Listen to patients and health professionals speak about their experience with taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 50
Number of medicines: 6
Cultural background: Anglo-Australian

Glenn has experienced many side effects from his medicines, including some that came as a shock and others that have been extremely disruptive to his work.

Yes, there have been … there have been lots over the time. Some of them have now stopped, so therefore it's a bit harder to remember them. 

The main ones I think are being … with the lithium it's been diarrhoea. I go through periods of hand tremors, which is really bad when I'm working in my chosen profession, which is fibre optics. Because it's smaller than a human hair and when you're trying to put two together and you've got hand tremors, it's impossible. 

The, what do you call it, testosterone … I forgot about that one. Again diarrhoea was another one for that, acne initially. The dexamphetamine has been the biting action. The Antenex … well, the only side of that is sleep, which is good sometimes but it does … it relaxes and it does stop the biting to a certain extent. 

They've all had side effects. I suppose the lithium more than anything and it still continues to have side effects. But I've probably got used to it a little bit. There was, yes, the stomach cramping, the diarrhoea, that's just a constant. But yes, the hand tremors was probably the biggest shock I got of that, apart from initially not being able to make it to a toilet. 

Hair loss was a bit of a shock, or thinning of the hair … and it wasn't in places where I thought it was going to be. It was actually pubic hair and I had to make a decision when that was happening as to what to do with it and made a decision to get it all waxed. I've stayed that way now for four years and I've let it grow back occasionally and it's sort of, no, that still looks really silly so go back to the other way. 

But I could have given up initially on the side effects, but I was determined … with the side effects happening. But I was determined to keep going with it because I wanted it so badly to work and it did. I wasn't going to give up on it that way.

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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia.